'The players deserve media coverage' February 22, 2006

Rider keen to make England No 1

Kat Lock

The England women's cricket team will have a new manager from the beginning of April. A familiar face jumps back onboard

Neil Rider - back © Getty Images

Neil Rider originally resigned from his post as manager after the World Cup in April last year. He cites his reasons as not being able to combine his two jobs; working as England manager and as county cricket development manager at Hampshire County Cricket Club. But, having left his Rose Bowl job in September, when the England job opportunity arose again Rider was keen to apply.

"It is an exciting time for the women's game," he says. "In the time I have worked with the women's team they have certainly made huge strides forward".

A part-time 80-day-a -year contract is a challenging job to take on and ideally Rider would like to be involved full time, particularly as his standards are set for the top level. "I want the team to become number one in the world. We are not far off that". The world champions Australia hold that honour.

Last summer's Ashes success of both the men's and women's teams "has had a huge impact on the game itself". But are those long memorable summer days starting to fade? Is Ashes fever wearing off? "No, I don't think this is the case," says Rider. "Certainly, because in the next few months cricket clubs will be starting to open up again - then it can be seen how many youngsters join up".

Rider founded and runs Serious Cricket, a specialist cricket equipment shop and part of the Serious Sport Group. It also offers coaching in the Berkshire and North Hampshire Area. These courses are often fully booked; Rider sees this as a reflection and an ongoing interest of the Ashes series.

Hopes are set realistically high to what England's women can achieve -but can women's cricket catch up with the attention paid to the men's? "This is difficult because firstly the men's game is professional and they play the game day in and out, but the standard of women's cricket has vastly improved and has become a spectacle in its own right."